A Look At Other Legislative Action This Session

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois lawmakers worked late into Thursday night with details on big issues -- pension reform and the budget, among them -- still in flux. Here's a look at where things stand with other legislative measures this session:

--Indicted Lawmaker: Appointed state Rep. Derrick Smith, a Chicago Democrat, was indicted in March for allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe. He's pleaded guilty and the case hasn't gone to trial yet, but in the meantime, he's refused to share information with a special investigating House committee. Without information, the committee couldn't make a decision about removing Smith from office. He held his seat and cast votes through the end of the session and his name is still on the November ballot.

--Legislative Scholarships: Legislators voted to end a taxpayer-funded college tuition waiver program after years of criticism that lawmakers used the scholarships as political favoritism. The Senate had balked at ending the perk of handing out scholarships to favorite students, but finally reversed course and voted to abolish the program. The measure now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who plans to sign it.

--Audio Recording Law: State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, and other lawmakers pushed to allow people to publicly audio record on-duty law enforcement. The move came after several people were changed with a felony punishable by up to 15 years for recording conversations with cops. Nekritz's second attempt passed the House, but was halted in the Senate. Courts have challenged the constitutionality of the old law, but it looks like it stays on the books until the state Supreme Court takes action or the fall legislative session.

-- Social Media Privacy: After Maryland, Illinois became the second state to pass a measure protecting current and prospective employees' private social media content from prying managers. The practice of directly asking for employees' or job seekers' passwords to their private accounts is rare, but incidents have been reported across the country. Employers can still search public social media activity and monitor their own equipment, but if Quinn signs the measure, social media users can rest assured that supervisors can't monitor private messages or photos.

-- Strip Club Tax: Illinois strip clubs may start paying to help rape and sexual assault victims under a measure that lawmakers approved and sent to the governor's desk for approval. The House passed the tax by 92-23 and there wasn't a single opponent in the Senate. Although some Republicans resisted creating a new tax, lawmakers seemed to agree they needed more funding for sexual assault prevention and services for rape victims. The measure would place an annual surcharge on strip clubs that have live nude dancing and permit alcohol. Businesses could pay $3 per customer or a lump amount based on sales.

--Illinois State Parks: Although state parks are falling into disrepair under painful budget cuts, efforts to replace lost funding for the Department of Natural Resources have met with resistance. Years of budget cuts have left the state underfunded and facing a $750 million backlog in park maintenance and repairs. Lawmakers proposed charging an entrance fee, as Illinois is among the few states that doesn't have fees to help with maintenance. That measure passed in the House, but didn't get a vote on the Senate floor. As an alternative, lawmakers proposed raising the annual $99 license plate fee by $2; the measure passed in the House.


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